Stranger In This Town (1991) was the bomb!!! So it only made sense for me to check out Sambora’s second studio album, Undiscovered Soul (1998). That particular album is very different from the first one because it incorporates more genres such as country, reggae, rock, pop, etc., but it still centers around blues-rock. Undiscovered Soul was more of a self-discovery process for Sambora as a lot was happening in his life at the time, including the birth of his daughter, Ava Elizabeth Sambora. But I feel like the more personal it is, the better because the greatest songs ever written are those that deal with real emotions and real-life experiences. Plus, it was hard to pick a favorite on this album!
The first song on the album, “Made In America,” was like Richie Sambora doing country! Those were my exact thoughts because of the harmonies, the acoustic guitar, and just the feel of it. That guitar solo in the bridge was very western-style. Also, the title “Made In America” gave it a feel-good vibe that people can sing around a campfire. However, it’s more meaningful than I thought because it’s about Sambora’s life in New Jersey. He wanted the fans to hear his story and get to know him better as a person. “Music is a very conversational thing,” Sambora explained on an Australian talk show in 1998.
“Hard Times Come Easy” was the first Richie Sambora song I ever liked because it was very uplifting and upbeat! The lyrics are very encouraging for people that are just having a bad day. Like Sambora is telling us that it’s going to be ok. The guitar solo in the bridge was simple, but it was groovy! Unlike Stranger In This Town, Sambora’s singing wasn’t too crazy, not too many vocal runs, or outrageous notes. There were some jumps from high to low, but overall very smooth sailing, and it worked for this album.
“Fallen From Graceland” had me shook because it was so different from what I’m used to from Sambora. The first time I heard this song, which was about two weeks ago, I was not digging it. But after listening to it on the bus on the way home, surrounded by so many people (I’m still working on my fear of people), I found it very comforting. As I mentioned before, Sambora seems like a very spiritual person, and I found “Fallen From Graceland” very moving spiritually. I also enjoyed the little references to “One Light Burning.” An example would be when he goes, “There’s a light, a bright light burning,….yes, there’s one light burning.”
There were fun songs like “Chained” and “If God Was A Woman,” the latter had an unusual title. Normally, I’d disapprove of songs that depict God as a woman or something else, but Richie Sambora would be an exception because it was catchy! I heard that Steven Tyler played harmonica for this song, I missed it the first four times listening to the song, but it’s there! “Chained” is like something people can dance to at a wedding.
“All That Really Matters” is a song that makes all of the girls swoon off their feet because it’s such a beautiful song! I mean, look at these lyrics, “You’ll always be my sweet addiction, In this life my saving grace. You’re all that really matters. You know its true. Ain’t no me without you.” Nothing too crazy with the guitar, there was a lovely piano composition in there, and Sambora delivered on the vocals with so much passion, no doubt! This song is about his wife at the time, Heather Locklear, though they aren’t together anymore, it’s still a mesmerizing song truly.
This album had a lot of acoustic guitar parts, and they were accompanied by Sambora’s simple, but powerful vocals. Examples would be “In It For Love,” which features bongoes and has like a reggae vibe to it, and “Harlem Rain.” As cheesy as it sounds, I can picture rain following down my window pane while listening to that song. Other songs were pretty intense like “You’re Not Alone” and “Who I Am.” During “You’re Not Alone,” Sambora does this scratchy and echoed effect with his voice, it could be a production thing, but it was cool. “Who I Am” features a nasty guitar solo in the end.
“Downside Of Love” was the most blues-oriented song on the entire album, which explains why it’s one of my favorites. Makes sense, though, because Sambora is singing about the pain that comes with love, so how could he not sing the blues? I loved the bluesy guitar riff and phenomenal guitar tone all the way! I prefer Sambora’s vocals on this song the most because it was giving me Stranger In This Town vibes.
The funny story with “Undiscovered Soul” is I heard this song once, and then the next day, the chorus was stuck in my head! I loved the opening guitar riff, great tone, and great melody. I was hoping to like this song, though, because the title caught my attention immediately. I enjoyed the details like the little rolls on the cymbals, the taps on the ride cymbal, and the gunshot-like hits on the toms that added to the dramatic effect of it. I can relate to Sambora’s lyrics a lot; I wish I wrote them myself!
His songs speak messages that I need to hear. For example, there are the lyrics, “Each day he tears down the reflection, Of who he used to be. And with a little luck, He’ll rise eventually.” Those are words of encouragement!
I listened to the expanded edition of Undiscovered Soul, which included live performances from a 1992 show in San Diego, and he sounds just as good live as he does on the records. Overall, I loved this album, and Sambora’s lyrics will hold a special place in my heart. If you have a chance to check out Undiscovered Soul, please do so because it is just beautiful! Also, I highly recommend you check out his first album before listening to the second one to see the differences between the two, musically and emotionally. Expect a review for his third album in the future.
Take care and see ya real soon!